UBCO cancer researcher wins top student prize

Aspiring pediatric physician Bhavan Panghali is among the UBC Okanagan's 1,760 spring graduates.

  • Jun. 18, 2016 7:00 p.m.
UBC Okanagan graduate and aspiring pediatric physician Bhavan Panghali.

UBC Okanagan graduate and aspiring pediatric physician Bhavan Panghali.

Bhavan Panghali, a microbiology student, is the recipient of the largest undergraduate award given to an Okanagan student—the $10,000 Pushor Mitchell LLP Gold Medal Leadership Prize.

“Words can’t express how much gratitude I have for Pushor Mitchell and for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences,” said Panghali. “This prize will help me continue to give back to UBC and the Okanagan for what they have given me—passion and support for learning and pursuing my goals.”

Along with being a summer research intern at the BC Cancer Agency—where she also spent much of her time volunteering—Panghali was instrumental in creating the UBC Okanagan Cancer Fighter’s Club, and planning the UBC Okanagan Relay for Life—raising more than $80,000 in three years.

She is also a founding member of the first campus-wide Interdisciplinary Games taking place this September. She plans to use her Pushor Mitchell award towards medical school tuition, when she applies in 2018.

Wisdom J. Tettey, Dean of the Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, says that Panghali is a worthy recipient of the prestigious prize, noting she exceeds the criteria, especially when it comes to giving back to the community.

“Over the four years that Bhavan has been at UBC, she has encouraged others to get involved through her fundraising efforts, worked to improve the lives of those affected by cancer, and inspired faculty and students alike to do their best and excel in the areas they can make a difference,” said Tettey. “We are honoured to have Bhavan as a member of the elite group of award winners.”

In addition to outstanding academic achievement, the Pushor Mitchell prize is also based on demonstrated leadership. For Panghali, leadership comes in a lot of different forms.

“Leadership takes a lot of courage,” she said. “You should lead in what you are passionate about, not in what is expected of you. You can’t be afraid to be the first or only one. Leading is an important role, but so is supporting. We all need supporters.”

James Paterson, managing partner at Pushor Mitchell LLP, says the firm is proud to support Panghali through the award.

“Strong leadership is at the core of healthy, vibrant communities. We at Pushor Mitchell believe that Bhavan has demonstrated her leadership skills admirably” said Paterson. “The firm is happy to support her as she furthers her education and career and grows into an even stronger community leader.”

In addition to academic achievement, to win the Gold Medal Leadership Prize candidates must demonstrate leadership in: community service or volunteerism, cross-cultural relations, promotion of diversity, intellectual pursuits, and artistic or athletic endeavours.

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